Differentiating salmon

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
21 March 2007, at 12:00am

NORWAY - Salmon producers are competing for customers, but what are they doing to stand out? And is it profitable to focus on salmon with distinctive characteristics?

A new research project will map the salmon industry's strategies to stand out in the crowd.

Salmon is commonly exported as a standard product, as whole salmon or as fillets. This means that price is often the only criterion about which the salmon producers are competing. The result is a strong focus on producing the salmon as inexpensively as possible.

Photo Fiskeriforskning
Standard whole salmon soon ready to be exported.
Photo Fiskeriforskning
Can it pay to profile salmon fillet in new ways?
It is therefore important to study alternative ways to increase profits for the salmon companies. For example, can it pay to profile new products, ethical aspects or traceability?

In a new three-year project, scientists in Norway, Scotland and Chile are going to map the salmon producers' strategies to stand out from their competitors. The mapping will provide an overview of what the companies are specifically doing to make their mark, which obstacles they are meeting, and to what extent these measures are profitable.

The scientists, amongst other things, will follow individual companies that are trying to stand out from others, for example by producing ecological salmon or by labelling the salmon in special ways. The goal is to gain knowledge that can contribute to increased value added in the salmon industry.

What do the customers want?

Can it pay to profile salmon fillet in new ways? In addition, market studies will be conducted amongst purchasing agents in supermarkets and stores. The purchasing agents' desires and attitudes are central for which products they choose, and in some cases, large stores have joined together with salmon companies to tailor-make special products.

An example is the retail chain Marks and Spencer, which has entered into a collaboration with Scottish Sea Farm to supply farmed fish that satisfies their requirements. Experiences with such relationships between producer and customer will also be studied in the project.

International collaboration

Fiskeriforskning is leading the project, which is a collaboration with the Dept of Marketing, University of Stirling, Scotland, and Universidad Austral from Chile. The industry studies are being conducted in the respective countries, and the market studies will undergo in central markets.

The project is financed by the Research Council of Norway, the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund and Marine Harvest.